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College of Social Sciences receives $250,000 to study New Orleans' schools

Loyola press release - August 24, 2009

Loyola University New Orleans College of Social Sciences was awarded a $250,000 seed grant from the Ford Foundation to establish the Loyola Institute for Quality and Equity in Education. The institute is the first independent research center devoted to studying the three systems of schools in New Orleans since the city rapidly amassed the highest percentage of children in charter schools in the country following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The institute conducts research on how independent charter schools, state-run schools and the small number of traditional public schools in New Orleans serve children of color and diverse economic backgrounds and those with special needs. CSS Dean Luis Mirón, who leads the institute, said this research may be used in the creation of public policy that ensures quality education for all students and the equitable distribution of dollars and human capital across public schools in New Orleans and beyond.

“The city is both a national experiment, and potentially a national model,” Mirón said. “That is why we felt it was crucial to conduct objective research on the efficacy and equity of this system.”

Mirón was asked by the Ford Foundation to submit a proposal to start the institute, which is funded through targeted donations. Mirón said the institute fits perfectly into Loyola’s existing social justice framework, which includes several centers and institutes that work for justice and the elimination of racism and poverty.

Cyrus Driver, deputy director of education for the Ford Foundation, said support for the institute reflects the foundation’s longstanding goal of making high-quality schooling, built on well-researched, evidence-based policies and practices, available to all children.

“New Orleans is undertaking an experiment in school reform that has gained national attention. As a result, it’s imperative that there be careful, independent third-party analysis of the programs to measure their success and the extent to which they truly benefit children with the least opportunities,” Driver said. “A number of other cities, like Chicago, have well-established independent research consortia that have helped advocates, educators and policymakers understand the effects of various school reforms. This center has the potential to do the same for New Orleans.”

In order to maximize its resources, the institute is also strategically partnering locally and nationally with organizations such as the Greater New Orleans Afterschool Partnership, which works with education organizations to support after-school services for school-age children; the McDonogh 42 Charter School organization, which is working to assess school performance; and the Duke University DukeEngage program, which links student researchers to projects in developing or under-funded areas.

For more information on the institute, or to schedule an interview with Dean Luis Mirón, contact Catherine Koppel in the Office of Public Affairs at 504-861-5448 or ckoppel@loyno.edu.

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LoyNews is an e-newswire produced by the Loyola University New Orleans Office of Public Affairs. LoyNews is distributed weekly to local, regional and national news media outlets, communicating the latest news and accomplishments of the university and its community.